Younger generation of stateless can no longer travel to Russia visa free
Estonian residents with an alien’s passport born after February 1992 aren’t granted visa free entry to Russia. This can only be good news for Estonia, finds Kristina Kallas of the University of Tartu’s Narva college.
Russia will no longer allow the descendants of former citizens of the Soviet Union to cross its borders visa free. This affects the younger generation of stateless residents of Estonia, who so far have been able to travel to Russia without needing to overcome this particular bureaucratic obstacle.
“I think this is good news, as the group of residents that hold alien’s passports have always been one of Estonia’s worries. If this pragmatic privilege is now taken away from them, which might have been what made them hang on to the alien’s passport, this can only be good news for Estonia,” Kallas told ERR’s Vikerraadio.
Kallas pointed out that Russia hadn’t announced the change overnight, but decided as early as 2008 that only those who had been citizens of the Soviet Union would be able to enter Russia without a visa.
Young people who never were USSR citizens have been able to travel to Russia visa free with their parents up to the age of 18. But all those born after the now effective cut-off date are adults, and won’t be able to travel to Russia alone without a valid visa any longer.
The interesting question now was what those people would decide to do about their citizenship status, Kallas said. Last year, 624 stateless took on Estonian citizenship, and 445 got Russian passports.
Kallas pointed out that these numbers didn’t mean that Estonian citizenship was that much more popular than Russian citizenship, but that it had been mainly people over the age of 45 who decided in favor of becoming Russian citizens.
“There’s hope that those young people who decide to change their citizenship status will go for Estonian citizenship because they’ve lost the privilege to travel without a visa,” Kallas said. It was now in Estonia’s interest to inform those young people about the advantages of Estonian citizenship, for instance the fact that as Estonians they would be able to travel to the Schengen countries as well as the UK, the United States, and Canada without a visa.
Kallas added that a lot of the younger stateless actually already had the language certificates necessary to pass the Estonian citizenship test. For all those, becoming Estonian citizens is just a matter of formality.